Brown Introduces Paid Sick Leave, Family Leave Legislation

Senator Gives Update on Plan to Restore the Value of Work

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of his ongoing effort to restore the value of work in America, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has introduced paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave legislation. Earlier this month, Brown outlined his plan to make hard work pay off again, and over the next several months, Brown will be introducing legislation to implement his plan.

  • The Healthy Families Act would allow workers to earn up to seven paid sick days a year to care for a family member and to address personal medical needs.
  • The FAMILY Act would create an insurance plan that provides workers up to 12 weeks of time off from work to tend to family and medical crises.  During those 12 weeks, workers are able to earn up to 66 percent of their income capped at $1,000 per month.

“This plan is about updating our economic policies, our retirement policies, and our labor laws to reflect today’s reality,” said Brown. “These are two important first steps we can take to invest in our workforce, and ensure that hard work is rewarded. We can’t build a strong economy without a strong middle class.”

Brown’s plan will make hard work pay off once again by doing four things:

1.      Raising workers’ wages and benefits

2.      Giving workers more power in the workplace

3.      Making it possible for more workers to save for retirement

4.      Encouraging more companies to invest in their workforces

Brown, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, also highlighted his plan as a way to support American workers and promote economic growth during a committee hearing on Tuesday.  

Brown was joined on the call by Karen Franz of Cincinnati, who wrote into Brown’s office to support paid sick leave legislation. Ms. Franz was diagnosed with a rare and serious illness and was forced to miss several months of work. Because her employer allowed her to bank paid sick leave, she was able to maintain her employment. 

“I was fortunate my employer allowed me to bank my paid sick and vacation time, but many workers are not as lucky as I was. It’s important that we have paid sick leave so that workers can take care of themselves without the threat of losing their jobs,” said Franz.

Brown and his office have been working on this plan since the fall of 2015. Some of the policies outlined in Brown’s plan are new ideas. Others Democrats have talked about before, but they’ve never been laid out as part of a broader agenda to restore the value of work for all Americans.

Summary

WORKING TOO HARD FOR TOO LITTLE:

A Plan for Restoring the Value of Work in America 

Read the complete plan here.

1.     Raise workers’ wages and benefits:

  • Raise the federal minimum wage to $15.
  • Pay overtime to executive, administrative, and professional workers making less than $47,476.
  • Make sure workers are able to earn up to seven paid sick days.
  • Establish 12-weeks of paid family and medical leave through a national paid leave fund.  

2.     Give workers more power in the workplace:

  • Provide workers in key service sectors with advanced notice of their schedules.
  • Expand collective bargaining rights to give workers a stronger voice in the workplace.
  • Redefine what it means to be an independent contractor by preventing large employers from using the independent contractor classification to get around labor laws and boost profits.  Specifically, require employers with more than 500 independent contractors and $7.5 million in annual receipts to pay employer payroll taxes for independent contractors.
  • Crack down on wage theft. Wage theft can take many forms, including: forcing people to work off the clock, refusing to pay workers the minimum wage, denying workers overtime pay even after working more than 40 hours a week, stealing workers’ tips, or knowingly misclassifying workers to avoid paying fair wages.
  • Fight back against employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors to avoid paying taxes and fair wages by strengthening IRS enforcement authority.

3.     Make it possible for more workers to save for retirement:

  • Expand access to retirement programs for part-time workers, low-wage workers, and small business owners.
  • Create better retirement savings opportunities for independent contractors.
  • Give workers a tax credit to match their retirement contributions.

4.     Encourage companies to invest in their workforces:

  • Require corporate freeloaders to reimburse taxpayers when their employees have to rely on federal assistance programs because their wages are too low. 
  • Give companies a tax break when they commit to staying in the U.S., hiring in the U.S., and providing good wages and fair benefits for their workers.

 

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